Having your cake and eating it, too

Recently in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, a baker who refused to make a custom cake for a gay couple’s wedding. After Phillips told the gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, that he would not make a custom cake for their wedding because of his religious views, the couple then turned to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to file a complaint. The commission ruled against Phillips. The case traveled its way to the Supreme Court as these types of cases do. Once there, the justices ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, 7-2, on very narrow grounds sighting that the commission was “hostile” towards Phillips’ religious objection.

I feel this was the right decision for a number of reasons. First, the left needs to stop treating people’s religious views as if they are some stupid fairy tale. You don’t have to follow the same faith, but show some civility towards others views when you disagree. This is especially true of a government body. Yes, we as a society are seeing civillity thrown out the window more and more, but it’s refreshing to see the Supreme Court remind us to be civil in our discourse.

In theory, the United States is a country founded on freedom of religion. While the crack between secular and religious reasons and/or laws is expanding farther apart in some circles, how are we as a society to have a safe respectful society if even our government agencies can’t manage it? Granted that some religious communities’ beliefs are a slap in the face of most of the secular world. Western society has seen a number of bigoted ideas fall to the wayside as time as moved forward and we see that trend spreading to other countries, too. While we’ve seen a backlash towards an equal society that values secular justice, overall our progress as been moving forward with each pendulum swing. The point is if we are going to have progress then we need to have dialog with each side. Dialog that doesn’t alienate the people we are trying to reason with. The Colorado commission showed disdain for the Phillips’ views which didn’t aid in a constructive dialog.

Which bring me to my second reason why this ruling was correct – this ruling makes it easier to tell which businesses are run by a bigot or a racists or a homophobe or some other type of a-hole. Yes, many bigots make it super easy to find them like the Beckys of the world. But, if our society deems by law not moral high ground whom a business needs to do business with, then a bigot could be running a business serving many people in a community without that community knowing the owners true feelings. Personally, I don’t want to do business with businesses run by bigots. I’d rather take my business elsewhere even if it’s inconvenient.

Lastly, while I agree that creative people should have the right to refuse a commission, when you become a business serving the public, that right is not clear cut. Creative people put their energy into what they make whether it be a painting or a cake. Why a customer would want to have a celebratory cake made by someone who views them with discuss or distain is perplexing to me. For protected classes of people, the legal protections in place to facilitate equal protection under the law are right for most businesses like dealerships, car repair, airlines, realtors, and medical services especially in emergencies. Though, I would like to know if a doctor is a bigot or not before discussing my medical situation with them. Maybe that is just me.

Personally, I would not want their hatred in my cake, flower arrangements, invites, food, etc. If I know a creative business owner is a bigot, then I will do business with creative people who are not. I feel that the law at some point will force creative people to put their energy where it doesn’t always belong. While some of this sounds contradictory, it is to some extent. But creative people are a looking glass on a society, when we start to restrict their freedom of expression, we start to restrict the focal point of the looking glass.
I realize that this creates a special exception for discrimination, but as the sea tides move towards a more morally equal and just society, will these businesses stay in business anyway? What better place to teach someone a lesson then at their pocket book. And it goes both ways, as members of the Trump administration are discovering as they visit various restaurants. In time, conservatives will (hopefully) grow as humans beings and learn to be tolerant of people who are different from them.

As we’ve seen from the Arizona appeals court, the laws around discrimination have not budged much. A few days after the Masterpiece Cakeshop verdict was announced, the Arizona appeals court ruled in favor of the city of Phoenix and against the owners of Brush & Nib Studio stating that the owners of the studio could “not discriminate against potential patrons based on sexual orientation”. This verdict does not contradict the verdict from the Supreme Court, but does complement it.

As a society our members need to know how to be decent with each other because it’s the right thing to do, not just have laws to tell people how they should be. This leads to resentment of a government being overbearing. Government should not need to pass laws for people to treat a fellow human with respect. Having society shape what is accepted will take longer but it will also last longer and be a part of everyone’s fiber.

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